Ryan L. Fox
There is nothing in Rhode Island that can beat a baseball game on a cool, June evening. On Monday evening, the Pawtucket Red Sox played host to their IL North Divisional rivals, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in the first of a 4-game midweek series to be played between the two teams. Ironically enough, the two teams play against each other at the start of last week with the PawSox winning the series 2-1.
Taking the mound for the home team was RHP Josh Smith (2.2, 5.88) as the Iron Pigs countered with RHP Tyler Viza (0-4, 5.75).
The PawSox were the first to get on the scoreboard.
With one out in the bottom 1st, 3B Chad De La Guerra blasted a solo shot home run off of Viza and over the right field wall for the early 1-0.
The IronPigs were able to tie things up in the following top 2nd.
After the leadoff man lined out to right field, 3B Mitch Walding got on base with a single. He then was able to advance all the way to 3rd on teammate RF Ali Castillo’s double as the IronPigs had two runners in scoring position. Then C Rob Brantly hit a grounder to 1st but PawSox 1B Josh Ockimey could only get the out at 1st as Walding slid into home safely, tying the game up at 1-1.
After that, it became a pitching duel of attrition.
Both Viza and Smith were able to hold their opposition off the scoreboard for the remainder of their outing.
Smith found himself in a jam in the top 5th. After striking out IronPigs 2B Gift Ngoepe, Smith allowed hits to both LF Lane Adams and CF Adam Hasley. After another strike out, Smith ended up walking Grullon to load the bases before facing against Walding. Smith then wrung up Walding for the final out of the inning to get out of the jam, keeping the game still tied at 1-1.
The tied game continued on through the 8th inning. The PawSox went from Smith to LHP Bobby Poyner in the top 6th and then to RHP Travis Lakins in the top 8th. For the Iron Pigs, Viza gave them 7 strong innings as they then went to LHP Kyle Dohy in the bottom 8th.
The IronPigs almost got to Lakins in the top 8th as they got men at the corners with two outs in the inning and Brantly coming to the plate. Looking to drive in another run, Brantly faced a 2-0 count before knocking a flyball into foul territory along 3rd base line. PawSox LF Cole Surgeon was able to hustle all the way from left field to make the sliding catch for the final out of the inning.
But in the bottom 8th, the PawSox were able to get a man on base as CF Gorkys Hernandez drew a walk off Dohy. Then during De La Guerra’s at-bat, G. Hernandez was able to steal 2nd to get into scoring position. De La Guerra then ripped a double into the right field corner of McCoy, allowing G. Hernandez to score to give the PawSox the 2-1 lead. After 2B Marco Hernandez got on base via dropped strikeout, Ockimey came to the plate. Ockimey then took a Dohy pitch and rocketed a double into center to drive in both PawSox baserunners to make it 4-1.
The PawSox then went to RHP Trevor Kelley in the top 9th to close the game out. Kelley was able to get Hasley to fly out to center field as the PawSox came away victorious in the series opener on the final score of 4-1.
Smith went 5 strong innings for the PawSox, allowing 6 hits while giving up only 1 run (it was earned), walking 1 batter, and striking out a career high 11 batters in the no-decision. The winning pitcher for the PawSox was Travis Lakins, who came in to pitch in the top 8th. In 1 inning, he only allowed just 1 hit and had 0 walks and strikeouts. The losing pitcher for the IronPigs was Dohy, who came in on relief in the bottom 8th. He went 1 inning, giving up 2 hits, 3 runs (all earned), allowed 1 walk, and struck out 2 PawSox batters.
The two teams will meet up late Tuesday morning at 11:05 a.m. For the PawSox, they will have LHP Brian Johnson (0-0, 10.80) will be making a rehab start for the club as LHP Kyle Hart (1-0, 0.00) will piggyback off of him. The IronPigs will counter with LHP Ranger Suarez (2-2, 5.91).
After the game, PawSox manager Billy McMillon spoke with the PawSox media for his postgame Q & A session. McMillon spoke about his team’s performance in the game, the pitching performance of Smith, and more.
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